More effective marketing through quality service – fail

I mentioned in a previous post a way of doing Business for a local plumber (The most effective marketing is the quality of your service), on that same day I had the same company come out to see what was wrong with my A/C.

Wednesday night, our A/C downstairs started to not stay ahead of the heat so my wife scheduled to have a A/C specialist come out (provided by the same company that sent the plumber the same day) to see what could be done. A year ago, this company replaced our upstairs A/C and did a fan/capacitor in the downstairs unit so the visit was a no-charge inspection.

The technician checked the basics quickly and found ice on the outside unit’s pipes. Coming inside, he said the air filters were plugged up and needed replacing. I questioned it a bit as they were just replaced three months prior. He pulled the two for downstairs out and showed how they were gray. He offered to show next to new, I pulled out a couple I had in the closet (bought a bunch a year ago so they would never be blocked and the air would be clean). He held the two up so the light from the window could come through to show how the one, even though there was no dust bunnies on the surface it was blocked. I found this interesting since I know in the automotive world, it is not legal in most states to show old vs new for auto air filters – they go off white a mile down the road if they are working.

We put in my new filters.

Since the pipes outside where frozen, he wasn’t able to check anything else. He turned everything off, requesting we turn it back on in four hours after it defrosts. If there is no cold air, we should call his cell and he would come out and check the freon. He went out to his truck, returning with a sheet of quotes to replace the whole downstairs A/C system. His feeling was that if my system was low on freon, it must have a leak, and if there is a leak the rest of the system must be wearing out too.

His quotes where on several 13 ton options in the $6k range and 16 ton options in the $8k range. A selling feature of the 16 ton was a end-of-year $1500 tax credit. I asked if the 16 ton would make that much difference over the 13 ton I have now for cooling vs monthly power bill. He let me know I actually have a 10 ton and that a 16 ton for $8,000 to $9,ooo would save me a lot every month.

As I mentioned, this was Friday. When the four hours was up, we turned on the A/C. Cool air started coming out and since it was so hot outside I thought it would take a while to come up to maximum coolness throughout the downstairs so we didn’t ask for the service gentleman to return. Saturday morning, we found the A/C frozen again… as luck would have it, to have the system checked on Saturday would be an emergency call and there would be a charge.

Unlike their plumber with a couple hundred dollar up-sell, I can see how the profit from selling everyone who calls a whole new A/C unit does pencil out to pay for marketing. I might just mention them by name to my local social group…